Someone Just Tried To Citizen's Arrest An UberX Driver In Sydney

It's no secret that established taxi operators have a thorn in their paw put there by app-based transportation service, Uber. One man took his fight against the app's ride-sharing service UberX a bit too far this afternoon, attempting a citizen's arrest of a driver. We've now spoken to the man at the centre of the arrest movement, and he promises to arrest a Sydney UberX driver every single day for the forseeable future.

The man at the centre of the affair is Russell Howarth, and he is a limo driver in Sydney which also uses the Uber service for passenger bookings.

Russell has created a website meant to "expose the truth" behind the UberX service, branding it an uninsured and unsafe option for passengers to use. The Twitter account owned and operated by Russell, @ArrestingUber, is linked to the cause, and frequently tweets out anti-UberX messages.

This afternoon, @ArrestingUber said that there was to be an arrest of UberX drivers operating in Sydney as a protest against the service. However, this turned out to be a slightly watered-down claim.

NSW Police told us this afternoon that at approximately 4pm AEDT, a man made a booking through a car sharing service, and during the travel accused the driver of being unlicensed while also driving an unregistered vehicle.

Police added that after the accusation was made, the passenger requested to be taken to Newtown Police Station. Upon arrival the passenger requested that the driver accompany him inside. Police checks revealed that the driver in fact was driving a registered vehicle and was properly licensed, meaning no further police action was taken.

The Taxi Council of NSW told Gizmodo that while it doesn't agree with Uber's business model in Sydney, it doesn't condone rash action such as citizen's arrests either. The Taxi Council called for calm, and said that the problems with the service ought to be dealt with via the process currently underway with Transport For NSW and the Minister for Transport's office.

The NSW Government has warned several times that UberX drivers could face fines for operating a ride-sharing service in breach of current legislation.

Uber Sydney's General Manager David Rohsheim told us that today's exercise was just a stunt.

"It seems there was an attempted publicity stunt today. I'm sure we would have heard if any Uber partners had been arrested, but we have not."

We have since received a response from Russell, and he tells us that today was "just a warm up", adding that he plans to try and arrest UberX drivers every single day:

"I'm going to continue to arrest UberX drivers until the Government gets serious about regulations that carries a $110,000 penalty. When you operate one of these cars it's almost certain you're committing two offences at once because the driver isn't accredited to do it and the car isn't registered as for a hire car activity.

"[When I went to the station today] the police advised me I had no right to perform a citizen's arrest. They then threatened to arrest me if I didn't drop the action. I refused and said 'you need to charge this person'.

"I don't want to question the capability of the police here, but because the driver is licensed as a taxi driver the police thought that because his private car. They've got his details and the case has not been finalised and now they know that they can still prosecute him.

"The thing that upset the police the most today is that the driver parked the car in the police zone," Russell laughed.

"The Transport Minister will get the copy of my statement and it will articulate clearly that the vehicle wasn't licensed and that the driver isn't licensed as a hire car driver. I have the guy admitting that he knew it was an offence."

Russell then responded to David Rohrsheim's claim that the Arresting Uber activity is a stunt:

"It isn't a stunt. This is just a warm-up. I will be doing this every day. I have a news crew who wants to film me doing it. My primary concern is people's safety."

Russell added that he plans to make his next "arrest" as early as tomorrow morning in Sydney.


Comments

    Did the moron order an Uber Black or something?

    I can kind of understand why the establishment might be against UberX, but Uber Black or Taxi?

    Personally, I love Uber in all iterations.

    Guys, don't give this douche any oxygen...
    What a waste of humanity.
    For the record, I don't mean Luke. :)

    Last edited 16/10/14 9:04 pm

    I wouldn't have thought it was an indictable offence... if it is not the person performing the attempted arrest is in fact offending. Even if it is an indictable offence a citizen can only perform an arrest using minimum necessary force if they know (not suspect) a crime to have been committed. If the police have stated that no crime has been committed then, again, the person performing the attempted arrest is in fact offending.

      It's a fine... just like a parking ticket. Last time I checked I can't make a citizen's arrest for bad parking.
      This guy is a nuisance and should be charged with disrupting the peace or something like that.

        If it was actually a minimum force arrest he could possibly be charged with deprivation of libertyand or assault.

      He can't use force of any kind without opening himself up to an assault charge, he can only ask the person to co-operate.

      The police probably had no idea what to arrest the unlicensed uninsured unaccredited non gst paying tax avoiding UberX driver for...

    Here in Melbourne, we just book them.

    Stupid enough to do it, you'll get a fine.

      "We?" Who do you book exactly?

      Besides, the fines aren't actually paid by the drivers anyway and it's not stupid if a large amount of the public want it.

    What a complete wanker.

    Citizens' arrests are risky business. If you THINK you want to try it, you should read up on Section 6 of the Criminal Code first - the section which pertains to lawful arrest without warrant.
    Like @damo said: It actually has to be an indictable offense, not a misdemeanor, and the arresting citizen has to have witnessed the offense occurring - they can't arrest on suspicion, like police can.

    Any citizen who commits an UNlawful arrest by failing to meet the criteria in the criminal code faces being charged themselves, for the incredibly serious crime of deprivation of liberty, which carries anywhere from $50k fines to years in jail. This is what happens to security guards who convince suspected shop-lifters that they are 'under arrest' - held against their will and not free to leave at any time of their choosing. Any security training you undergo will teach you to be VERY fucking careful about the impression you give, to avoid being mistaken for 'arresting' someone. Even simple things such as standing between a person and the exit has been interpreted as implying arrest. It's also why unless there's an actual fight in progress (and sometimes not even then), the security guards on public transport won't ever lift a finger to touch someone.

    In short: don't fucking do it to make a political point like some kind of asshole. Be enough of an asshole about it and you can be up for several years in jail for being a self-righteous prick. Let the police do their job and you fucking worry about doing yours.

    Edit: From re-reading, it sounds a lot like this toolkit is going to end up in jail if he keeps pressing this. “[When I went to the station today] the police advised me I had no right to perform a citizen’s arrest. They then threatened to arrest me if I didn’t drop the action. I refused and said ‘you need to charge this person’. He's been warned, and it looks like he's going to ignore that warning because he thinks he knows the law better than the police. Frankly, he deserves what he'll get.

    Last edited 16/10/14 11:22 pm

      And with every word of this story I read, I am reminded I am not in the US, cause if I was, this guy would be treated like a hero.

      Edit: From re-reading, it sounds a lot like this toolkit is going to end up in jail if he keeps pressing this.

      This would be the best outcome. One more idiot removed from society.

      In regards to your comment about security guards on public transport
      http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/metro-trains-officers-under-fire-for-using-force-on-schoolboy-20141015-116i8o.html
      My buddy witnessed this going on for quite some time with numerous people trying to get the myki officers to release him.

        Train officers are a whole nother ball game and have been given some powers of the police to manage hooligans and graffiti artists.

    oh god the dickhead's got a beard...

    Last edited 17/10/14 8:25 am

    A quick Google hows Mr Howarth loves him a bit of media attention.

    Don't feed the (CEO) troll.

    All I see is a dickhead being a dickhead.

    Who also happened to book an Uber ride.

    The man at the centre of the affair is Russell Howarth, and he is a limo driver in Sydney which also uses the Uber service for passenger bookings.

    This tells you everything you need to know. He's a moron, attacking a company that he uses himself. Words can't describe the stupidity. I hope Uber blacklists him in every way.

    What this guy has done is very very stupid and would happily accept if he got arrested.

    I also believe that what Uber is doing is very illegal and needs to be appropriately penalised. There are many many hard working Taxi drivers that have to pay fees for licensing themselves and their vehicles. This is for the safety of them, the public and their passengers.
    Uber does not have the right to come along and ignore the law and carry out the exact same work that others are doing while obeying the law.

      Taxi drivers should offer a better service than Uber.
      I would choose a taxi over a (usually more expensive) Uber any day if the "hard working Taxi drivers" put more of an effort into:
      - speaking English
      - not talking on their phones while I was trying to give them directions
      - not taking a longer route contrary to my directions and asking me to pay
      - personal hygiene - most taxi drivers reek to high heaven
      - not denying me service when they find out my destination is not far enough for their liking (in breach of regulations)
      - not refusing to put a lady's luggage in the boot for her

      I don't think any of this is unreasonable. I recently experienced how professional the taxi drivers in Japan are.. they meet all of the above standards and go beyond them. I have heard about the quality of London cabs. If Melbourne cabs were half as good, there would be no space in the market for Uber. In the meantime, I say bring on the competition.. maybe when they feel it in their hip pockets they will be incentivised to improve the quality of their service.

      Last edited 17/10/14 12:03 pm

        Uber Black is more expensive (it's the luxury version) and is actually perfectly legal since they are technically hire cars.

        UberX is what people bitch and moan about. That's much cheaper than a taxi and anyone with a newish car, good driving record and a criminal check can do it.

      The main point with Uber is that they are trying to change the law for the better.
      The current laws are not there for your safety. They are there so the government can control the market and charge for the privilege.
      If you actually go read the taxi regulations you'll quickly see that it's all bullshit red tape and nothing to do with safety or customer protection.

      All Uber is doing is pointing out how stupid and expensive the current system is. Everyone complains about safety but we all know how terrible taxi drivers are on the road and there's plenty of stories of them attacking customers... People need to understand that just because someone has an expensive piece of paper doesn't mean you're automatically completely safe. It's not a guarantee.
      Uber isn't either, but in practice it's no different. Taxi drivers have more regular police checks... that's about it. We've already heard that all drivers but the instructor failed the governments driver test recently...

      Insurance is really the only legitimate concern.

    Did the guy pay for the fare? It sounds like he asked a legitimate taxi driver to drive him to a destination.

    Police added that after the accusation was made, the passenger requested to be taken to Newtown Police Station. Upon arrival the passenger requested that the driver accompany him inside. Police checks revealed that the driver in fact was driving a registered vehicle and was properly licensed, meaning no further police action was taken.

    Wow what an arsehole.

    hi everyone,

    long time reader - first time poster.

    I first used Uber in the US - and found the service fantastic until my last UberX experience when the driver looked like he hadn't slept for days. I asked him and he said he had to make rent by the end of the week.

    So basically it's a risk. I compare it to hitch-hiking, it's pretty safe until it goes wrong.

    I'm a big fan of disruption but at the same time it's not hard to understand the licensed drivers around the world are incensed because their livelihoods are being turned upside down by allowing randoms to drive people from point to point. It does seem that the authorities are aware of the problem but giving drivers a slap on the wrists is not the answer.

    Also as for the point of Uber trying to change the law for the better. If I think it's okay to walk around with a gun without a license it doesn't make it acceptable. That's not the way.

    It also does shit me that Amazon, Google, Facebook and Uber don't pay local tax and if they started importing cheap labour to replace my job I'd get up off my ass and get angry about it too - so I think fair go on the guy to make a point.

    hi
    this is Andrew Charton here ..... What a waste of humanity .. great job

    After travis new fare prices
    We the drivers can not quit
    We cant give up
    We started this crab; now we got continuing supporting travis and the pseudo riders scum, now
    Whats going to happen with them?accostumed to pay nanopeanuts for taxi we can not let them down
    This poor disgusted pseudo riders are not willing to ride anymore on the stinky taxis
    Also with this new rates homeless and walfare recipients would be able to have a decent transpirtation
    Travis will be very proud of us for help him to depreciate the taxi industry now "new rates" by a 80% and make believe all this cheap, frugal, arrogant, indecent, cinics, disgusted, shameless, classless pseudo riders that we are a bounch of mental retarders doing this just for fun or the pleasure to meet such scum
    Keep doing like that ill like to see how you end up in the bext comming days dealing with the stress and the pressure of know that some scum people is rating you despite the nanopeanuts they are paying you comparing with the disgusted stinky cabs
    So please erase that stupid idea of quit from your head
    Travis at this point is very pleased
    And dont forget; he loves you

    By the way
    The forum Uberpeople.net is a joke they dont allow the freedom of speach at all
    Running by travis And his crew
    They only want to read beautiful lies but not real issues
    As soon you said something real as soon you are banned

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